GREAT GOSPEL PREACHERS OF THE PAST
(Part 1: G. C. Brewer and H. A. Dixon)
(Note: A few months ago I wrote several essays on “Great Leaders of the Restoration Movement.” I now begin an intermittent series on “Great Gospel Preachers of the Past.” It is my plan to discuss two preachers in each essay. I hope you will find these biographical sketches both interesting and informative. “Remember those…who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” [Hebrews 13:7]).
G. C. BREWER (1884-1956). Grover Cleveland Brewer was born near Pulaski, Tennessee on Christmas Day in 1884. While still young his family moved to Florence, Alabama where he grew to manhood. In his youth he heard and was greatly impressed by the great Florence preacher, T. B. Larimore. (One of Brewer’s brothers and one of his nephews were named Robert Larimore Brewer, Sr. and Robert Larimore Brewer, Jr., the latter also a gospel preacher). At the age of 16, G. C. Brewer preached his first sermon in Florence. He was educated at the School of the Evangelists in Kimberlin Heights near Knoxville, Tennessee, Nashville Bible School, and Austin College. He was awarded LL.D. degrees by both Harding College and Abilene Christian College. He served churches in Chattanooga, Columbia, and Memphis in Tennessee; Austin, Sherman, and Lubbock in Texas; and Los Angeles, California. Brewer was an eloquent speaker with a booming voice. While I never had the privilege of hearing him, I read his book of sermons and was deeply impressed by their content. They all focused on Christ. He was a controversialist by nature and conducted a number of debates with various proponents of religious error. He served for many years as a staff writer for the Gospel Advocate and founded and served as the first editor of the Voice of Freedom, a publication devoted to exposing the errors and dangers of Roman Catholicism and communism. He was a popular lecturer for schools and colleges associated with the churches of Christ, as well as for gospel meetings, lectures, and special engagements at local congregations of the Lord. On one occasion he was lecturing on evolution at the Broadway church in Paducah, Kentucky. In the midst of his lecture he paused and said, “I am doing everything within my power and ability here in the pulpit to show that man did not come from a monkey, but there are some young people in the balcony who are behaving in such a way as to show that he did!” A prolific writer, Brewer wrote The Model Church, Brewer’s Sermons, Contending for the Faith, As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened, Medley on the Music Question, Forty Years on the Firing Line (a book I read with great enjoyment when I was 17 years old), and his autobiography, which he wrote in the closing months of his life. He also authored a number of tracts and pamphlets, and hundreds of articles in brotherhood journals. He was one of the most influential preachers in God’s church in the first half of the 20th century and passed from this life on June 9, 1956 in Searcy, Arkansas. His funeral was conducted in Memphis, Tennessee where he had lived for many years, and he is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.
H. A. Dixon (1904-1969). Hubert Allen Dixon was born on October 3, 1904 in Delrose, Tennessee. (Tomorrow will be the 114th anniversary of his birth). He was baptized into Christ by J. W. Brents in 1918. In 1929 he married Louise Cowan and to them were born Allen (also a gospel preacher) and Sara (Mrs. Glenn Sargent, Glenn being a gospel preacher and former missionary to Italy). Brother Dixon was educated at Middle Tennessee State Teachers College (now Middle Tennessee State University), Freed-Hardeman College, and the University of Alabama. Both Harding University and Pepperdine University bestowed on him honorary LL.D. degrees. Blessed with a great love for music and a marvelous voice, brother Dixon served from 1929 to 1935 as the assistant minister to G. C. Brewer (see above) at the Union Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee where one of his major responsibilities was leading the congregational singing. Brother Dixon had a high regard for G. C. Brewer and was greatly influenced by him. Like Brewer, brother Dixon had a clear conception of the undenominational nature of the church, and often spoke against the denominationalizing tendencies of some in the church. Brother Dixon began preaching in 1935 in Memphis and started his fulltime pulpit ministry in 1936 in Martin, Tennessee. He went on to serve churches in Springfield, Missouri; Jackson, Tennessee; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Florence, Alabama. In 1950, he was called from Florence to Henderson, Tennessee to serve as President of Freed-Hardeman College, succeeding N. B. Hardeman. He continued in this position until his death in 1969. I was privileged to attend Freed-Hardeman during his administration where I had several classes under him and where I came to have a great admiration for him. Not only was he a great preacher and an exceptional administrator, but he was a marvelous teacher and his classes in Romans, Hebrews, Revelation, and other Bible subjects were unexcelled. Brother Dixon also was an able writer and served on the board of Voice of Freedom, was a staff writer for the Minister’s Monthly, and served as a member of the Editorial Council of Power for Today. He was in demand as a preacher for gospel meetings and for college lectureships. In 1956 he was the speaker for the Far East Fellowship in Tokyo, Japan. On his return from Japan he gave a fascinating report of his trip to the students and faculty in a chapel speech at Freed-Hardeman. Brother Dixon passed rather suddenly from this life on November 8, 1969. I remember the feeling of sadness that swept over me when I learned of his passing. His funeral was conducted in Henderson, Tennessee by Tom Holland, C. P. Roland, and E. Claude Gardner. He is buried in the City Cemetery in Henderson.
October 2, 2018